Full disclosure: I love going to SeaWorld and watching Shamu making it do what it do, but I also hate when animals are mistreated.
But can whales REALLY be “enslaved“?
Controversial animal rights group, PETA, sure thinks so. They recently filed a lawsuit in San Diego, CA accusing SeaWorld of violating the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery.
The lawsuit lists the whales–Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises–as plaintiffs, and asks the court to extend Constitutional rights to the orcas.
PETA released a statement, saying: “All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said.
“They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks.
While I’m all for fighting for animal rights, equating the treatment of whales to the treatment of millions of enslaved Africans is not only ridiculous, it’s also offensive.
And apparently, the people as SeaWorld agree. They issued a statement saying, “[Extending] the Thirteenth Amendment’s solemn protections beyond human beings is baseless and in many ways offensive.”
Legal scholars also agree that this lawsuit has no basis in court. David Steinberg, a law professor in San Diego told Reuters, “The 13th Amendment abolished the abhorrent, despicable practice of the slavery of human beings. PETA is demeaning the integrity and humanity of people who were owned as slaves. That is outrageous.”
PETA is known for their controversial campaigns. Two years ago they came under fire to fat shaming, and this year, many felt their shark attack ad was in extreme bad taste. This lawsuit, requesting to bestow Constitutional rights to whales, is just another in a long line in PETA’s attention-getting stunts.
Did PETA cross the line or are they right in asking that whales be protected under the Constitution?